Monday, September 1, 2008

Chocolate Birthday Cake (for Sara Jane)

I have 2 close friends in my life, Tati and Eva. Sara is Tati's daughter. She is the daughter I never had. She has spent most of her life growing up at my house, with endless numbers of sleep overs, and many, many hours playing with her "cousins", who she used to pretend were her brothers. I can remember walking into a store with her and the boys when she was 5 or 6 and she would whisper to me "Auntie Lisa, let's pretend that Jesse and Evan are my brothers okay?" She would happily call after them, looking to make sure someone was watching her while she loudly proclaimed "oh brothers, wait for me!".

With her 11th birthday around the corner and a Labor Day cookout already planned, we decided to combine the two and celebrate her birthday at my house this year. A girl after my own heart, with a chocolate addiction almost as fierce as mine, I knew I had to make her something rich and sweet and chocolaty.

Chocolate Layer Birthday Cake (for Sara Jane)
Printable Recipe
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
¾ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 cake pans. Mine were 9x3 rounds. Line the bottom with wax paper or parchment and grease tops.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars on medium with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the chocolate, and mix well. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in the sour cream.

Divide the batter into the two pans and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes and move to wire rack.

To make cupcakes, line two 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Fill 2/3 with batter and bake 20 – 22 minutes, or until tops spring back lightly when touched. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.

I put a layer of Nutella between my cakes. Did I ever mention that I love Nutella and could eat it each and every day of the year? Well I could, but I don't, but I would like to.

Mocha Frosting
Printable recipe
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
12 oz bittersweet chocolate.

Heat the cream and espresso powder in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from the heat and pour mixture over the chocolate, let sit for 5 minutes then stir to combine. Chill frosting in the fridge for 30 minutes*, stirring every 5 minutes until it’s thick enough to spread. Spread onto cake layers and top and sides. Store loosely wrapped in wax paper in the fridge. Bring to room temp a half hour before serving.

I tried to keep this cake looking great for the birthday girl, but covering it loosely with wax paper was not an easy task, especially in my packed full fridge. I ended up using toothpicks so the wax paper wouldn't adhere itself to the top of the cake. It did stick in a few spots and I had to smooth over the frosting with a hot spatula. Let 's just say it didn't look as pretty as the first pictures I took of it, but it tasted awesome.

*After 30 minutes in the fridge my frosting was still soupy. I had to let it sit for almost an hour and a half before it was "spreadable" and it was still more of a ganache than a frosting. It tasted great, but it's definitely not a true frosting.

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